I’ve been growing intently for years now in trying to become what I would call a ‘woman of grace.’ It’s probably been the most difficult journey for me personally, even though I’m naturally kind and loving, being a true woman of grace means exhibiting maturity even during the hardest of circumstances.
Maturity. I love this word and it’s meaning. I love that this is what Jesus meant when He said that He desired for us to be “perfect” (Greek meaning = mature, complete in growth), like He was.
Complete in growth. Stable, mature, peaceful… uneasily shaken by others and what they may say about you or do to you.
When people are being human, with their flaws, or even sometimes difficult personalities, I’m able to exhibit grace fairly easily. I’m blessed to be easy going and optimistic in nature, but when I’m confronted with extremely rude or even evil people, I tend to throw grace out the window and can become like a mamma bear in all her anger in setting my boundaries or telling them off.
While I’ve come a long way in spiritual growth in this area, I still want to work to become more mature, more able to understand a difficult situation so that I’m no longer sucked into sinful drama. Its critical to understand the motive behind our own behavior that can end up leading us to being ungraceful in how we deal with others.
A few years ago now, I read one of the most interesting books on anger and dealing with people or situations that bring out bad characteristics in us. The book is called Overcoming Emotions that Destroy, written by Chip Ingram, and helps one to identify what kind of person they are (a Stuffer or Exploder… I’m a Stuffer that can endure for years before I finally Explode), what kinds of things hurt or anger them, and how they spiritually need to go about dealing with toxic emotions (or people) in order to have joy and peace in their life.
Being a woman of grace means having composure, finding and being grounded. It carries over into the realm of crisis situations, and into confrontations with catty or gossipy females.
Carrying oneself with grace means having patience when a difficult person needs time to mature, but grace also means having the wisdom to know when to move on away from a person who refuses God’s assistance to grow beyond their immaturity.
Being a graceful woman is finding maturity through allowing God to develop in you the traits of the Fruit of the Spirit (more below), but let’s take a look at why it is so important to cultivate Grace. Let’s take a look at the ungraceful woman.
The Ungraceful Woman
To be an ungraceful woman (not disgraceful as that implies shameful), but merely a woman who lacks real grace in dealing with others, is a very painful existence for that woman, and is why I truly feel sorry for people who live their lives in such a unhealthy manner. She constantly feels the need to control others, to criticize or “punish” them, without trusting that God sees everything and has taken vengeance into His own hands, and commanded her not to herself!
Meddling in others’ lives, watching them in order to jump on their mistakes, gossiping to her audience of relatives or friends about their mistakes or perceived lack of character… all these things are actions that prevent these women from growing in true maturity, and it always makes me very sad when I come across someone with this defect. A woman like this is shirking her calling, ignoring her God-given talents, and being consumed with the faults of others while her own creativity withers away. Once you understand the depravity of her actions, you no longer feel any other emotion toward her except for deep sadness at the life she’s chosen for herself. She knows deep down that she’s wrong, that she’s behaving immaturely, that she’s deliberately confronting someone (or going behind their back to gossip) in something that is not her place and not bringing glory to God, however, she believes she is doing what is right, even beneficial to her target. She is driven by this feeling, even though she has a nagging horrible anxiety about it.
The Ungraceful Woman Is Addicted to Attacking Others (you know… like a hobby)
Why do people attack others? Why would someone focus so much on another’s life, devoting their words or actions to criticizing their every move? Why would someone go into a church, sit there for an hour listening to a Bible study, and then carry out their plans to murder the people in that church because they hated members of a different race so intensely?
Even though these are situations where a person gives in to evil in lesser or greater degrees, I want people to understand that these all have one major motive in common:
The desire to shame or punish others
When Dylann Roof, the recent aggressor in a mass shooting in an African American church in South Carolina, carried out his actions they were based on the desire to punish the blacks in that church for perceived crimes others of their race had done (or even not done) in our country. He felt like he was carrying out a righteous duty in harming them, in exterminating them. His words were that he had to do it because he would be benefiting society. This is the basis of all racial crimes and genocide that has been prevalent all over the world, but it is always motivated by more than mere hatred, but by the desire to punish, shame or exterminate someone (or people)…
because they “deserve it.”
To a lesser degree, this is the same motive that takes place when a woman (or man) decides that harming someone through gossip (ruining their reputation or hurting their feelings), or punishing them by using harsh language, dismissing them or ignoring, or shaming them, is beneficial to that person or even a “righteous act.” The can even justify that harming them is beneficial to others or a certain group.
Be it someone like Dylann Roof or a woman who punishes and shames others, the evil is shown when the aggressor thinks they are justified to treat another human being this way. In Patricia Evans book, Controlling People, she discusses the scenarios of a person spanking a baby to get it to stop crying, and the event of a terrorist act,
While I am not in any way equating hitting a child with the quite different act of terrorism, I am pointing to the fact that they both arise from a terrifying unawareness on the part of the aggressor. And that in most cases, when people act against other people, they feel justified. They feel sensible.
If you have ever encountered a person who acted against you by harassing you, defining you, discriminating against you, or physically assaulting you, you may have noticed that the act was perpetrated against you as if you were deserving of it.
Whether they are experienced as horrifying, hurtful, or simply nonsensical, acts against others have certain commonalities:
1) Perpetrators usually believe that their oppressive actions are necessary, even right. Their behavior is actually the opposite: unnecessary and wrong
2) Generally acts against others, that is, attempts to control others, eventually bring the perpetrators just the opposite of what they want.
3) Acts against others originate with a distortion or lack of awareness. Perpetrators almost universally believe that they see clearly and are aware: the opposite of reality.
Instead of growing in maturity, an ungraceful woman develops a toxic character of constantly feeling like it is her “duty” to “call out” the sins, failures, and shortcomings of others. She feels like her oppressive and ungraceful behavior is necessary to bring about some kind of desired change. She attempts to control another to try to get what she wants from them (compliance), but ends up getting the opposite (a broken relationship, or being ignored, or facing the other’s indifference).
In acting in an ungraceful manner of attacking, shaming, or gossiping about another person, she is pursuing the opposite of growing in maturity. Maturity in our actions with others is found in the Fruits of the Spirit,
Maturity through the Fruits of the Spirit:
An aggressor or ungraceful woman at times, will break every single one of these beautiful tenants of the Fruit of the Spirit, characteristics that should be growing in someone that is becoming more and more mature or Christ like, in order to criticize or punish another.
Being a woman of grace means actively pursuing each of these characteristics whole-heartedly, allowing God to change her more and more into a complete woman – a woman who is mature.
Hope for a Future of Grace, Even in Our Failings
If you’ve failed in this way, if you’ve been the ungraceful woman, let me just tell you that I’ve been there… I’ve hit rock bottom. Don’t let shame that you’ve failed in this area prevent you from embracing the hope and joy that God can change and heal everything, giving you that maturity and peace to help you understand how to better deal with others.
Here are some scriptures that are for those who feel like they’ve failed being a woman of grace:
“I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion (maturity) until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because I have you in my heart, and you are all partners with me in grace….” Philippians 1:3-7
“For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to will and to act for His good purpose. Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world. Hold firmly the message of life.” Philippians 2:13-14
“Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it beacuse I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Therefore all who are mature should think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this to you also. In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained.” Philippians 3:12-16
“Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so also you must forive. Above all, put on love – the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful. Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:12-17